Mahaprajapati with the infant Buddha painting was an artistic painting by Wang Zhenpeng in the early 14th century. The artist was a Chinese from Yuan Dynasty and was an active artist between 1280 and 1329. (Pratapaditya 23-24). He used ink and color to produce the image of Mahaprajapati nursing the infant Buddha. It should be noted that Buddha was like a god among the Indians, Chinese, Japanese and other people from Asia who believed in his religious and cultural teachings (Pratapaditya 68).
Buddha is the founder of the famous religion in Asia, Buddhism, and is believed to have played a great role in unifying Asian culture through his religious teachings. Consequently veneration of Buddha among religious images became popular among Asian population and there are various artistic images of Buddha since then. Studies on Buddhist legends show that Mahapajapati was a maternal aunt to the Buddha and she became his foster mother after the death of Buddha’s mother Mahamava (Pratapaditya 168).
In this painting Mahapajapati is seen holding infant Buddha in her arms nursing him while her own son is left under the care of one of her attendants. Here the painter wanted to highlight the people’s love for Buddha to an extent that a mother could prefer to nurse him other than her own son. (Pratapaditya 170) Considering the message portrayed in the image, the painting fits in the period that it was created because it represents the culture of the Asian people. Use of ink and color on silk (hand scroll) was common among artists of 12th -15th and this makes the painting to fit well in this period.